We recently spoke with John Lovell about the important conversations that he’s having over at Warrior Poet Society. While we all love ARs, there is most certainly a mindset side that we should not ignore, especially since so many of us have chosen these firearms as a means to protect our homes and families from harm.
Q: John, can you talk a bit about your background and what you are up to with Warrior Poet Society?
John Lovell – Warrior Poet Society – I am a former Army Ranger and I’ve been doing training stuff for quite a while with both pistol and rifle. Other training includes room clearing, small unit tactics, home defense…and I did night vision for a long time.
I travel the country now as my “real, day job” teaching firearms and tactics to folks…both LE, military and civilian. When I am not doing that, I’m doing a good bit on social media. I’m on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook…with YouTube being the big one.
The Warrior Poet Society website has really been developed in the past couple of years where we have all kinds of blogs and links to everything. We even have an apparel line…So, that’s what I do.
Q: When I think about information that is grounded in reality, Warrior Poet Society is at the leading edge when it comes to mindset. We all love the guns and gear, but there’s another side of this that needs consideration. Can you talk about that?
John Lovell – Warrior Poet Society – A lot of what people chase after is fiction. (pauses) It’s vanity…it’s male bravado. Now, it’s fun and I don’t want to be a killjoy or anything…but it’s kind of like we all enjoy the concept of John Wick and The Punisher or whatever and we’re training like that with thoughts of ‘My body is a lethal weapon’ (laughs) It’s like, man you’re married with kids. (laughs).
Life is Not a Movie
Instead…be a good dad. Be a good husband and neighbor. And, be good at work. As cool as you think it is to be some crusty war veteran with a 1,000-yard stare who doesn’t talk about feelings…that’s not actually functional. That’s highly toxic. It is not something that works in real life. It’s fun in a movie, but you don’t want to do that. Anyway, just kind of popping that bubble that dudes create when they start thinking about “runnin and gunnin.” They start to kind of build this aura around themselves, or at least in their minds (laughs).
A Warrior Grounded in Reality
I’m not being too serious on the point, but I guess what we’re trying to do is marry preparation, real steps for realistic defense, teach you how to become more lethal, how to be a better warrior, but grounded in reality.
How much time do you really have to prepare? What are the things that would actually require you to use those skills, and would those skills even work? And how does that jive with who you are as a person?
Q: There’s just so many things to consider when it comes to a potentially violent altercation. Would you agree that it can be so overwhelming, some tend to push it out of mind?
John Lovell – Warrior Poet Society – In real life violent altercations, you have to go through a sea of different decision points…and this is the mindset stuff. It’s like what in the world is happening and being able to read a scenario and understand exactly the repercussions of certain actions so you know whether an attack is coming or whether you’re “on the X” right then.
So, there’s that bit…then there’s the situational awareness that proceeds all of the threat indicator reading. So, there’s that piece but even once a fight is on, before skills can ever even be put into use, you’ve got to figure out if you should even be using those skills.
Moral and Legal Considerations
That means we have to weave our philosophical frameworks, our moral frameworks, our theological frameworks, the legal frameworks of “hey that looks shady, what should you do about it?” Well what’s legal? What’s the right thing to do?
Let’ say you shoot the wrong person. For me, if I shot an innocent person and killed them, I’d never recover from that. And maybe in a court of law…the court said it was legal, but in my heart of hearts, if I knew I waxed some innocent person, I wouldn’t want to live with that.
A Sea of Different Considerations
So, there’s moral and legal considerations. Then there’s the skills. The question then becomes what skills are even available to you? Let’s say the bad guy is pointing a gun at the back of my head. Guys will say: “Disarm him!”
Well, O.K. Are you good at that? Have you ever tested that with a sims gun and a role player that was ready to light you up? Have you ever tried that…not thought about it after seeing a movie (laughs), but have you tried it?
So what skills are available, and then how do you actually outsmart somebody who has beaten you to the punch, so to speak? Bad guys get to go first. They are ambush hunters. So how do you reverse an ambush so that you can counter-ambush and win? That’s tactics and that’s fighting smarter…and so already we’ve just talked about an entire sea of different considerations before we even get to “how fast is your emergency reload?”
Mindset is King
What it all truly boils down to is “mindset is king.” So, as you’re working on fast and accurate shooting, which is absolutely, really, really, really important stuff…it’s not as important as the mindset stuff. The issue is it can be so difficult to communicate and wrap your head and arms around. A lot of people don’t know about it or don’t really know what to do about it.
Because of this, at Warrior Poet Society, we attempt to address and marry that into educational stuff on our website, blogs and on the YouTube videos.
Q: From my perspective as a father, husband, and hopefully responsible firearms owner, what other advice do you think it’s important to share with guys like me?
John Lovell – Warrior Poet Society – Since you put it in the context of kids and you centered on responsible firearms owner, I’d say make sure your kids can’t hurt themselves with guns. Just go ahead and assume that even though your kids are amazing children and they’ll never do anything bad, when you leave, they are going to go find your guns and play with them and show them to their friends.
Remove the Mystery
It’s just almost a cliché, but don’t make it possible for little kids to gain access to your guns, period. And couple that with good education. Education is not just universal gun safety rules. Those are all well and good, but it’s also letting them know basic stuff if they are interested in firearms. Let them be around firearms when they reach an age you deem good-to-go, but, take away the mystique of it. There should be no mystery, so it’s not the “forbidden fruit” they have to find.
My dad had a gun safe. I looked for the key to that safe for two years when I was a kid. Whenever he would go on a trip, it was like “hey, it’s time to look for the key to the safe!” I wanted to get it so bad that I zoned out my house. I never did find it. He was a responsible gun owner.
Importance of Readiness
Another piece is readiness. It’s not just security to make sure accidents don’t happen. But it means being ready enough that if I needed to defend my family from an ambush attacker, that I would be ready in body, mind and spirit to be able to extricate someone from the planet if that needed to be done.
Q: Let’s say someone reads this and decides to embrace the idea of being a protector. We chat with a lot of first-time rifle owners here…Any advice you’d share to someone on procuring rifle for home defense?
John Lovell – Warrior Poet Society – Get a basic setup…a good setup. Not a great setup, just a good one. Then, quit trying to dork out with every trigger job and accessory that you think is going to make you great, and get some training.
Once you get the training, then you will know what to get. I say this because I have a graveyard of all of the different accessories. I’m overflowing with accessories that I was absolutely certain were great. And all the reviews said great things…and once I really knew, and once I really started getting education, I was able to separate a lot of the wheat from the chaff.
Crutches vs. Enhancements
But it’s predicated on skills, learning, education. Today, I can pick up whatever pistol or AR. I don’t really care. I can “rock and roll” with whatever. It’s about training centric stuff for me. Anyway, that’s my aspiration and what I’m pushing towards, and it’s where in some ways I’ve gotten to.
So, to reiterate, my advice is get the training…and then when you want to add on the “sexiness” a little bit later, you do so with education. Then it’s not a crutch…it’s an enhancement.
Q: I know many guys with incredible firearms collections…and when a discussion arises about seeking training, the subject quickly turns back to their latest and greatest rifle, and how it did at the range that day. There’s an idea that the gun alone is enough. What’s your opinion on that?
John Lovell – Warrior Poet Society – If an attack comes, it’s going to happen faster than you ever would have imagined. It’s going to happen at a closer distance, and they’re going to come at you harder than you ever dreamed of. It’s a mess. You have no time. It’s overwhelming and its terrifying. If you have not put yourself in force on force engagements and engaged in real contact-type ambush fighting, man…that can be really, really difficult.
Oftentimes, fear can shut you down as well. So, you can be just an amazing shooter on the range, and actually be a really crappy fighter. You can be a crappy gunfighter, even though you are a really good shooter. Those don’t always mean the same thing, right? Being a good shooter certainly helps you to be a good gunfighter, but one does not necessarily mean the other.
Q: As we wrap up, are there other points you’d like to make about Warrior Poet Society?
John Lovell – Warrior Poet Society – What I’m really after more than just excellence in fighting is really that “warrior-poet” mentality. That means we are doing one side of this…and that’s “Hey, I am making steps to become more prepared as a protector and provider.” That’s a piece. But I’m not doing it at the expense of that which I am doing it for.
An example of that would be, let’s say you have a hypothetical soldier who goes off to war to protect his country and to protect his wife and kids. And he does it so often that his wife leaves him and he gets bitter and hates his country in the end. It’s kind of like that. If that happened…I’m not saying that’s happening. I’m just using that as an example.
Balancing the Warrior and Poet Inside Us
Anyway, the whole “warrior-poet” ethos…it’s a value-based community where we live for a higher purpose and are ready to sacrifice in the defense of others. We make steps to be better prepared protectors. So that’s what we’re really after and we want to grow in every avenue of our lives…Both as warriors and as poets.
To be deficient in one can hamstring the other. I’m not a great lover if I am not being a great protector-provider. Part of my role as a loving father and loving husband is to provide protection. It’s part of my role.
Q: Other than following you and visiting your website…let’s say I want to develop my poet side a bit more. Where should be my first stop on that journey?
John Lovell – Warrior Poet Society – I’d point towards my Amazon reading list. All of the different categories, whether it’s security, history, philosophy, or theology. There’s a saying that there’s no atheists in foxholes…and while I do believe there are certainly atheists in foxholes, still it’s a catchy saying that many people have heard and it does have a kernel of truth.
That kernel is when you are in fear for your life, you say “Oh God, Oh God,” which means if you have not truly settled the theological questions when you fear for your life, you may very well get in a kind of negative feedback loop where you’re all of a sudden asking those question, and find yourself being unable to deal with the present because you have unresolved conflict in your life or you’re thinking about stuff you should have worked through. You’re not really ready to die.
“Weird Stuff Comes to the Surface”
And so…you want to be able to protect life on a two-way firing range? So, you better have settled that. You better know what happens when you die. I don’t think people who have not been in fights really think about that stuff. But that weird stuff comes to the surface.
You’ll be in the middle of a gunfight and you’ll be thinking about “you know what, I’m going to buy a duplex and I’m going to rent out the other side.” And then you’ll snap to and be like “what the hell am I thinking about!?” So, minds can wander.
Dangerous, Loving and Kind
I don’t mean to go on a tangent, so to bring it back, I would just say I think it’s important to be educated…to be thinkers. I think it’s important to be dangerous. But, it’s also important to be loving and kind. I’m speaking to mind, and I’m speaking to heart. I’m speaking to dangerous hands. And the reading list will drive people to the kinds of things I’d recommend.